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Contents: Volume 2 - The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 12, 2018


The 19th





1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)






Sun. 19 B

Although I am far away from wanting to leave this life because of despair, I have joined Elijah in saying, even sometimes aloud, "This is enough, O LORD!" I have even murmured like the Jews in the Gospel, questioning not so much Jesus's teachings but definitely the Church's or a representative of the Church's interpretation/implementation of them. The life of a Christian, and perhaps more so for a Christian woman these days, is not a smooth one. The Christian life often involves complicated feelings, unwise or unintentional actions and, finding oneself spiritually in a different place than close to Jesus. Fortunately, the results do not have to include deep despair, thanks to the unconditional love, care, and mercy of the Lord!

My personal view of the angel touching the distraught Elijah in the first reading is a gentle nudge at first and an order that seemed like a suggestion. The second time seemed much more like a push and a command! I, too, can feel discouraged but have found that the Lord provides second and even third chances for me to hear what I need to DO through some pretty unusual modern day "angels". Some pushes are just downright spiritual shoves!!

The truth is that we can not just continue to murmur or sit and sulk , even when things seem overwhelming and we feel utterly helpless. In the Gospel story, Jesus tells his listeners and us to stop murmuring! He gives them and us two things to do instead. Jesus says to be "taught by God" and partake of the living bread of life. We can do those things even when really discouraged!

Being taught by God can begin simply by finding a book that focuses on topics of spiritual healing such as "promises of God", "trusting in the Lord"or "help in times of trouble". It doesn't take long to meditate on one or two quotes and apply them to your current personal situation. One of my favorite things to do is to find a "Jesus book store" as my kids and granddaughter calls them and slowly walk through the section that displays scripture quotes on plaques or holy cards. Could those angels be whispering the quote and nudging me a little, too?

Most of the time, a little peace and quiet will go a long way in quieting the murmuring I feel. Making the time to sit before the Blessed Sacrament where I look at Jesus and Jesus looks at me is remarkably effective. Of course, receiving the Eucharist is high on that list of God's "rescue" actions. I find going to a daily Mass is especially helpful to me.

We are so blessed to have such a solicitous God! God knows what we need ... and most of the time (but not always) it is not just to sit there! We may need the shade of a broom tree to catch our breath and take stock of things for a little bit, but surrendering life as Elijah wanted to do, oh no! I think God wants us to surrender our wills and wayward or indifferent ways, then take that broom (at least figuratively) and sweep away the despair and distractions in our lives.

May the Lord continue to nudge, push , or shove us back into His Work Force! May we be nourished by the Bread of Life and the Word of God. May the angels, both heavenly and human, that the Lord provides in our lives lead us closer to Jesus.


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





Nineteenth Sunday of Ordered Time August 12, 2018

1st Kings 19:4-8; Responsorial Psalm 34; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; Gospel Acclamation John 6:51; John 6:41-51

Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert because Jezebel was after his head. She promised the dogs would lick up his blood poured out by her sword. She was angry with him because Elijah had just proved the prophets of her chosen religion to be prophets of false gods. In the end, Elijah slit the throats of 450 of them. Perhaps Jezebel was thinking of Elijah as a murderer and wanted to punish him for his crime? Not so! Elijah continually preached against the worship of Baal and Astarte. Elijah proved in a contest with the prophets of Baal that Baal was a no-god, unable to accept a sacrifice offered by his prophets. The corrupt orgy worships and sacrifices of the first born of his worshippers were a cult of death and corrupted the people’s hearts and minds. In this Sunday’s reading Elijah thinks himself a failure. His victory over the prophets of Baal, dramatic as it was, made no difference to the people of the Northern Kingdom, Israel. He fled into the desert for his life. He rests sitting under a broom tree for shade against the burning sun and prays that God would take his life and end his struggle to lift up the Kingdom’s people. He sleeps from the exhaustion of his flight and overwhelmed by his failure to convert the chosen people led astray by failed and corrupt leadership. An angel brings him food and drink. He eats and drinks and returns to sleep. Again he is awaken by an angel and fed. With the food and drink Elijah was able to walk forty days and forty nights without apparent rest or additional nourishment or drink.

Forty days and forty nights without stopping!? This seems an exaggeration or the story of a miracle that boggles our minds. The narrative proves a point for us. With food and drink from God’s hands we can achieve the impossible. The narrative continues beyond our short reading this Sunday. Elijah enters a cave on Mount Horeb. We should know that Mount Horeb is the same as Mount Sinai. And Mount Sinai is where Moses met God. It was there that Moses received the law of God that would lead humanity to its perfection. It is on Mount Sinai that the commandments were detailed and the people began working their way personally, culturally, as tribes loosely connected only by a common ancestry into a nation, a people God’s own.

We may think of the Mount Sinai experience of these people as the end of the story. It’s only the beginning of a journey. That journey is a journey through a desert. When these ragtag bunch of tribes survive forty years of wandering they will have learned more about this God – this Yahweh. They will come to a beginning of a realization of that Creator God’s continual presence among them. They fall repeatedly into the Ways of the World with its idolatry and worship of power, of wealth, of status. Yet each time they enter a desert that calls them once again to the great commandments. Those commandments are easily summarized into two. The first of those is humanity’s response to the great love God has for his people – "Thou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might." And the second summary is "Thou shall love your neighbor as much as you love yourself."

Elijah enters a cave on Mount Sinai and waits to hear from God. After all he was fed with food for his journey to the place of God’s visitation to the People freed from the tyranny of Pharaoh. That freeing placed the people on a journey a full generation long. As Elijah sits in his cave the mountain is visited with fire, wind, storm, and earthquake. None of these is a visitation from God. God tells Elijah to come to the entrance to the cave but to turn his back to its entrance. After the storms, fire, and earthquakes, God visits Elijah and passes by the cave’s entrance and is known only as a whispering.

This is a great story. But it seems so beyond belief that we dismiss it as lacking any application to us. Yet if we dive into the story of Elijah we may find in his story hope for our own lives. Does it not happen to us that we listen to the Word of God proclaimed to us in the Liturgy of the Word? Do we not struggle to overcome the corruption and culture of death of the way of the world? Yet repeatedly the way of the world creeps into our living, steals the attention of our children and our friends. Our belief and our efforts to live according to our faith is a struggle. Repeatedly the way of Christ triumphs over the way of the world. Yet in the end we are overwhelmed by the energy of those who cheat, lie, steal, murder, and rob our families of their vitality and goodness. Perhaps we fall into a sort of surrendering-despair by which we go-along to get-along.

We like Elijah fall asleep to the presence of the Lord with us. We lose sight of the unconditional love extended to us by our God. We long for God to control, to whip into submission those who live to destroy God’s love for us. We’d love to have the energy of idolaters suppressed so we can live in the light of God’s abiding presence. We’d love God to come to us in fire and fury, in storm and mighty power. But instead God comes to us in a whisper.

Just as Elijah is on his journey to find God in the conflicts of daily living, so also we are on our own journeys.

In the gospel narrative, Jesus insists we need the bread that he is. He is the bread from heaven. He lays no claim to being an energy drink that increases our attention, our energy, our strength. He is simple bread and drink. He presents himself as nourishment for our journey. With that bread and drink, we can also journey to the Mount of God’s presence with us.

Our lives are a journey. We are not alone in that journey but are accompanied by generations who have gone before us. We will be accompanied by the thousands of generations that follow after us. Each generation that responds to God’s abiding presence brings us a little closer to Mount Horeb, to Mount Sinai where God comes to us as the Father came to the Mount of Transfiguration where Peter, James, and John witnessed Moses and Elijah speaking with Jesus. It was there that the Father whispered to those present – "This is my beloved son. Listen to him!"

As we take the words of our readings with us back into our daily living – as we walk with bodies nourished by the Bread and the Wine that is Jesus the Christ, let us walk with the faith that springs into hope in our hearts and minds. That hope is fed and nourished by the Love God has for us. That Love of God is proved by God’s becoming one of us and walking as we walk.

May we listen well to God’s whispering to us each day. May it be so!

Carol & Dennis Keller






'Elijah got up and ate and drank [the food and drink provided by God], and strengthened by that food walked for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.'


People of God, you and I are familiar with Holy Communion. We receive it when we are healthy. We receive it when we are sick. Today, in the light of the Scripture readings, and especially the sentence just quoted from our First Reading, I would like to speak to you about receiving Holy Communion when we are dying. This is to speak of receiving Jesus Christ as viaticum, i.e. as food for the journey to the other side of life, receiving him as food that will empower us to reach that mountain of God which we call 'heaven'.

The term 'viaticum' means 'food for the journey' (literally and exactly, it means 'on the way with you'). Originally, viaticum was not a Christian word. In the ancient pagan world of the Greeks and the Romans, it was either a farewell banquet or money given for a journey. It came to be applied to the last journey of dying persons. For that journey, a coin was placed in their mouths to pay the fare to the ferryman Charon for rowing the deceased across the river Styx to the company of gods and heroes. The early Christians adapted these pagan ideas and practices. For believers, the Eucharist became a farewell nourishment for the journey to heaven, a pledge of eternal life, and an assurance of resurrection.

In the Middle Ages and up to Vatican II, confession and forgiveness of sins, viaticum, and anointing (as extreme unction or last anointing) were given in a continuous ritual for the dying. Since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, the Church no longer speaks of 'extreme unction'. The emphasis in the Church today is on viaticum as the sacrament for the dying. The Church's prayer-book for the sick and the dying insists: 'The sacrament of the anointing of the sick should be celebrated at the beginning of a serious illness. Viaticum, celebrated when death is close, will then be understood as the last sacrament of Christian life' (#175). Viaticum is the ultimate provision for Christians on their way to their eternal destiny, their final homecoming. The Church says it signifies ‘that the Christian follows the Lord to eternal glory and the banquet of the heavenly kingdom'. Since the Eucharist is a pledge of the resurrection, the words used after giving viaticum are these: 'May the Lord Jesus Christ protect you and lead you to eternal life.'

The value of viaticum for the dying Christian is illustrated in words of Jesus in today's gospel: 'I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever...' Those words of Jesus are echoed by St Ignatius of Antioch calling the Eucharist 'the medicine of immortality, that antidote that results not in dying, but in living forever in Jesus Christ'.

Many indications in the Church's revised official prayer book for the sick and dying suggest that viaticum should be given some time before the final agony of death, when the dying are in full possession of their senses. The preferred setting is within the full celebration of the Eucharist, which is to include the renewal of the promises of baptism, the sign of peace - in which all who have come together embrace the dying Christian - and then Holy Communion under the signs of both bread and wine. Viaticum may be repeated as long as the danger of death continues. The most appropriate time for viaticum may well be when the dying Christian has reached that stage which Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross, expert on the stages of dying, has called the stage of 'acceptance'.

In revising its celebration of the sacraments for the sick and the dying the Church has shown a double concern: - 1. to ensure the presence to the dying of the praying Church, and 2. to help the dying person complete the Christian life on earth.

It helps to remember that Jesus was frightened by the nearness of his death. He asked for the comfort of his friends to watch one hour with him. He prayed with a certain desperation: 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want' (Mt 26:39). It’s a Christian responsibility to help a dying brother or sister through the loneliness of their last days and moments on earth. This is particularly true of family, relatives, and close friends.

When my mother was dying in Melbourne in 1991, the biggest consolation I received was the news that my brother Passionist Tom McDonough had rushed from Templestowe to Mum's death-bed, and gave her viaticum, and the news of how Mum struggled to respond to all the Church's prayers as she was passing over to eternal life.

When the time comes for my last moments on earth, will I be wanting viaticum as food for my journey to God? You bet I will. When the time comes for your last moments on earth, will you be wanting viaticum as food for your journey to God? I certainly hope so.


"Brian Gleeson CP" <>









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